The Uncertain Promise of Agriculture: Two Essays on Climate Change, Agriculture and Nutrition in the Andean Highlands of Peru
Wheeler, Mary Katherine
Agriculture is regarded as a key driver of economic and nutritional outcomes for poor households in developing countries. Yet climate change threatens to undermine the assurance that advances in agriculture can improve the welfare of millions living in poverty. This thesis explores the uncertain promise of agriculture for farmers in the Andean highlands of Peru. It presents two papers that analyze household survey data from agricultural communities near the city of Hunacayo, within the Shullcas River Watershed, to elucidate relationships between climate change, agriculture and nutrition. The first paper evaluates factors expected to influence climate perceptions and adaptive behavior. It finds that farmers universally perceive long-term changes in climate, and overwhelmingly report negative impacts on crop production, yet the rate of explicit agricultural adaptation in response to these observations is low (15%). However, most households do report using one or more production practices that are considered by researchers to be climate adaptive. Multivariate regression results indicate that education and agricultural information provide an essential foundation for farmer adaptation, but limited access to productive resources constrains adaptive capacity. The second paper identifies a positive relationship between farm size and household dietary diversity, and it assesses two potential pathways linking agriculture and nutrition. The analysis offers strong evidence of a direct production-consumption pathway for subsistence and commercial farming households, in addition to weak evidence of an agricultural income pathway only for households with commercial crop sales. Results further suggest that off-farm income is a critical driver of food security and dietary quality in the study area. Overall, both papers support the notion that investments in agriculture may not be sufficient to reduce the welfare gap for households facing hard constraints to climate adaptation or farm profitability. Development organizations and policymakers should expect tradeoffs between efficiency and equity in the targeting of climate adaptation and nutrition-sensitive agricultural policies and programs.
Nutrition; Agriculture economics; agriculture nutrition linkages; Andean farming systems; climate adaptation; dietary diversity; Peru; production diversity; Climate change
Lee, David R
Hoddinott, John F; Gomez, Miguel I.
Applied Economics & Management
MS of Applied Economics & Management
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis